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Failsafe Speaking Without Lots of Words

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No disrespect to anyone meant, but could I suggest that creating a stump speech is not that difficult. Yet, I find a lot of people want to complicate it and I (respectfully) submit that that only makes the process more confusing. The most important thing to remember about communicating with any size audience, whether it's on the phone, at the door, or in front of a Rotary Club, is that they will respond when they feel that you understand them. It's very similar to raising children. When a child feels your understanding, you'll see a look of relief on his face. Look for the same in any audience.

Since I left writing sitcoms and movies 12 years ago I started teaching progressive candidates how to be more focused, more passionate, and thus more attractive to any audience, leaving them with something to take away, whether a line, a word, a thought, or just, "I liked him/her." I formulated a six step series of questions which gives a candidate a template for answering the most difficult question of all: Why are you running?

Please take a look:

1. Why are you running? Because:
2. There's a problem. Who has it? (keep it anecdotal and specific to the audience you're talking to...when you see their heads nod with you, you're on track. )
3. Then comes you. What's your experience with those problems? What do you know about it? (Again, keep it anecdotal -- people always remember a story about something they know better than anything else. Trust me. I used to write sitcoms. People remember my old episodes faster than I do.)
4. Give us some hope. Got any creative solutions? I always tell my candidates to use this line of thought, "We could be....why aren't we?" And why "creative?" Because Democrats have a big dollar sign tattooed on their foreheads. Just tell us where we're spending money we shouldn't be, and what we could be doing with it.
5. What stands in your way: your opponent. However, not all opponents are incumbents, or crazy right wingers. Some of my least favorite opponents are: apathy, mistrust of all politicians, or electeds who don't have enough colleagues who feel the same way they do in order to make a majority.
6.Close the deal. What do you want? Obviously their vote, their donations, and to meet their friends, but before all that, you want them to feel emotionally invested in your value to their lives! You want them to feel that you not only "get" them, but you offer a potential way out of their present problems. (The "we could be's) You want them to feel that you're their guy/gal and boy, are they excited about your candidacy.

That's it. No other questions need be answered. The six questions constitute a scenario, with a hero, a problem, a solution, a villain, and an answer (or climax). By now I've worked with hundreds of candidates and potential candidates. First dig for the words. Real ones. Simple and anecdotal. No phrases such as "unfunded mandates," no "problem-solvers," no "broad coalitions," no political palaver. Simply care who's hurting in your district. Identify with them. Offer them your experience along with some practical hope. Tell them what stands in the way of your doing that, and tell them how much you'd appreciate their vote. Once you have done that, your passion for the job will shine through. Simple. Now, please run for office? From county clerk, to school board, to county commissioner, to state legislator, all the way to the Congress. No matter what the office, your being there will make a difference. Please. We need you!

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